This for My Mugs

We finally have a forum where we can be US. For those that know…

The Martial Way

Went to Budo class the other night for the first time in over a decade. Kicked my ass. Out of shape. Nauseous and dizzy. Sore and bruised. Couldn’t continue to do all the exercises without puking. Had to opt out to rest twice in front of another student: a woman and white belt.

All of which is awesome. There is only one enemy in the Dojang: you. Rudeness (Impatience). Arrogance. Lack of integrity. Giving up. Wildness. Weakness in spirit. The enemy complains only when he is being vanquished. Can’t wait for my next class. I’m glad I’m, as Grand Master Chang used to say, “getting young” again. 😉

Jesuit Padawan Learner

I “finished” my Exercises several months ago and it has taken me some time to reflect and digest what’s happened. I would say that no great vocational insight struck me. What happened was I received a capstone to a very long process of knowing who I am and whose I am.

The Jesuits have a handbook for this search. It is The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius Loyola, composed by the saint before he was even a priest. Often described as Ignatius’s greatest gift to the world, these exercises unfold a dynamic process of prayer, meditation, and self-awareness. The basic thrust is to make us more attentive to God’s activity in our world, more responsive to what God is calling us to do. Ignatian spiritual directors accompany or guide people through the exercises in retreat houses, parishes, and other settings.

via Ignatian Spirituality | Finding God in All Things.

I “finished” my Exercises several months ago and it has taken me some time to reflect and digest what’s happened. I would say that no great vocational insight struck me. What happened was I received a capstone to a very long process of getting to know who I am and whose I am on a deep level. What I am to actually do is simple: the “slow work” of God. Day to day. Minute to minute. I’ve learned to be open to God directing my life. My direction becomes clear as circumstances arise and preparation makes for opportunity.

Qui-Gon Jinn
Qui-Gon Jinn

I’m mindful of the Living Force so to speak.

Use your opponents’ strategies against them and you take away their power. […] Get your opponents to lose their grace, and they will lose their purpose, Padawan. […] Do not meet hate with hate. Meet it with purpose.―Qui-Gon Jinn teaches Obi-Wan Kenobi how to win a battle.[src]

Walking the Jesus Walk

St. Ignatius’ Prayer for Generosity

Lord, teach me to be generous.
Teach me to serve you as you deserve;
to give and not to count the cost,
to fight and not to heed the wounds,
to toil and not to seek for rest,
to labor and not to ask for reward,
save that of knowing that I do your will.

I began the Spiritual Exercises today and while I’m fearful of the unknown, I’m drawn by poetic prayers like this. They cut right to my core and say something beautiful and profound. Serving Christ as He deserves is to carry the cross with him. To give of oneself without condition or reservation. This is a very dangerous theology. It rebukes the pragmatism and cynicism and nihilism in this world. No wonder Ignatius was arrested by the Spanish Inquisition!

I’m excited about the journey.

Black Theology & Faith: James Cone, Critics and a Contrarian

I wrote the following as a final paper for one of the most powerful classes I ever had the pleasure to take in 2004. I was proud of it then and I’m still proud of it now.

I wrote the following as a final paper for one of the most powerful classes I ever had the pleasure to take in 2004. I was proud of it then and I’m still proud of it now. I had pulled an all nighter so my proofreading was limited. Still, I hope you enjoy. Much of my theology is unchanged, though now I do believe in a personal God that is compatible with the theology articulated here.

Black Theology & Faith:

James Cone, Critics, and a Contrarian

Robert Barrimond

AFAM519 Final Paper

Prof. Michael Eric Dyson

May 4, 2004


In this paper, I will accomplish three things centered around a discussion of James Cone’s black theology: 1) I expound upon the faithful source of James Cone’s black theology, (2) summarize some of the critiques and demonstrate their inadequacy, (3) in the best tradition of paid pests and colorful contrarians, provide a critique of some of the basic elements of black theology as well, and (4) the new possibilities and the value black theology has for us.  Because Cone is the field’s exemplar, I think it fitting that his theology be representative.  Let me begin by first examining the faith of black slaves.  I believe their faith to be the ground from which Cone’s theology springs. Continue reading “Black Theology & Faith: James Cone, Critics and a Contrarian”

The Reason

Facts Are Stubborn Things

From The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey:

Each of us tends to think we see things as they are, that we are objective. But this is not the case. We see the world, not as it is, but as we are— or, as we are conditioned to see it. When we open our mouths to describe what we see, we in effect describe ourselves, our perceptions, our paradigms. When other people disagree with us, we immediately think something is wrong with them. But, as the demonstration shows, sincere, clearheaded people see things differently, each looking through the unique lens of experience.

This does not mean that there are no facts. In the demonstration, two individuals who initially have been influenced by different conditioning pictures look at the third picture together. They are now both looking at the same identical facts— black lines and white spaces— and they would both acknowledge these as facts. But each person’s interpretation of these facts represents prior experiences, and the facts have no meaning whatsoever apart from the interpretation.

The more aware we are of our basic paradigms, maps, or assumptions, and the extent to which we have been influenced by our experience, the more we can take responsibility for those paradigms, examine them, test them against reality, listen to others and be open to their perceptions, thereby getting a larger picture and a far more objective view. [bold emphasis mine]

Indeed. That is who I decide to be: a person of integrity who takes responsibility for himself with a firm grasp of reality. It is not easy and Lord knows I fail probably more often than I’d care to admit. (Anger is a powerful drug.) If you have ever had a passionate discussion on politics or religion with someone, this difficulty should be apparent. As responsible adults we can overcome this. (You must if you wish to be an effective person by Covey’s lights.)
Continue reading “Facts Are Stubborn Things”

You Just Think You’re Excited

A lesson I learned about compassion and thinking (or not) when you are emotional.

Today I got into a heated, though thankfully not acrimonious, religious discussion with a good friend which had to end abruptly for the sake of our friendship. Afterward, I was reflecting and was surprised by my emotional reaction. Heart pumping, adrenaline flowing, voices tense. What the hell? We are both very committed Christians and in the heat of the moment we were more talking at each other than conversing with each other. I was taken at how angry I had become. And for no intellectual reason really. It wasn’t that deep. The world would not end, but here I was upset.

It finally occurred to me that as my friend spoke he used words and phrases and believed things that triggered visceral emotional reactions to experiences I’ve had in the past. But not recognizing that is a fundamental mistake. It is very hard to think when you are excited and full of emotion. I reacted rather than acted with intention. My friend was gone replaced by the bogeymen of my past humiliations and righteous anger. I failed to get outside myself and acknowledge him and, most importantly, that he might be feeling precisely the same way. In truth, things I said challenged his deeply held beliefs and that is rarely welcome.

It was an object lesson in compassion. It takes a lot of humility and hard work to “feel with” others. If I had taken the time to do so, we might have turned a sharp disagreement into a teachable moment rather than a clash of ego, belief, and emotion.

The Man in San Fran

Here on a long term business trip. Teaching a course and running the program encapsulating it. In addition meeting up with Wharton alums and networking my proverbial ass off. Difficult being away from my family. Miss them terribly. Just makes me more determine to squeeze this trip for all the value I can.